If you followed me for a while, you may know I'm kinda new to 18th century and Regency costuming. Being definitely not what you can consider a tall lady, I've never been a huge fan of high waistlines and raised breasts because I considered them bad looking on me. I was wrong. Really wrong. My perception of Regency era simply mislead by movies, period dramas and lack of knowledge. Being honest and admit your limits is the first step to open your eyes and start studying seriously a certain historical period and fashion.
Period dramas and so on forced the public to think Regency fashion was something delicate, extremely feminine and with a great freedom of movement given by the lack of corsets, heavy undergarments and underpinnings such as panniers or pocket hoops. Many ladies I know who sewn a Regency dress think the same but this is partially true. Regency women WORE corsets, even if they were surely more comfortable and less constrictive than their predecessors. They wore several layers too, such as chemises, petticoats, chemisettes and so on.
So, after making my own and serious researches I radically changed my point of view about Regency costuming; those dresses looked bad on me because of the lack of proper undergarments. That's all. You don't need to be tall to look good in your historical outfit.
After all these considerations, I can (finally) tell you something more about my first Regency event. Two months ago (ok, I'm a little bit late!) I was invited by Le vie del tempo to join one of their events at Osasco castle; I didn't have an early 19th century wardrobe so I had to sew or purchase everything. I mean...everything. The only thing I had was a pair of flat shoes. Sounds great, uh?
I started with a bodiced petticoat. Since we were at the end of July I decided to skip the chemise to survive the italian summer heat (I failed) and I drafted the pattern for my bodiced petticoat in a while; it's a basic top with a gathered skirt at the underbust with hooks and eyes at the back. I used some cotton in my stash and I sewn the hems with a basic running stitch. The garment when together easily and without surprises. Phew!!
Then the corset or - better - the short stays. They're made of two layers of cotton with plastic boning and metal grommets, not accurate but I was out of time and on a budget. I drafted my own pattern and since I'm not busty I avoided the gussets.
Bodiced petticoat with pinned stays
Now the fun part - the dress! I originally planned to make a blue cotton dress but the cotton I had was too heavy to be worn at the end of July (and still is...) so I run to the fabric store to look for a lighter fabric. I ended to buy the same fabric of my Ancient Roman green tunic with some extra satin piping for the back seams.
I wanted a drawstring dress but my bodice wasn't big enough to be gathered; after consulting Historical Sewing again about Regency dresses closures, I went for buttons at the back. I put piping at side back seams and between puff and lover sleeve but adding it to the neckline has been a mistake. The neckline became too heavy and large for my bust and needed to be filled with a fichu.
I don't have nothing new to say about the construction; the dress is made of a 5 pieces bodice and a two pieces skirt partially gathered. That's all. For a fuller skirt, just add another panel and you're done.
I have larger biceps than an average woman of my size so I wanted to hide them with long sleeves. A mistake, again. But they were really nice.
Here you can see how the gathers look. I love how the piping came out!
The ladies from the group especially loved the braided hairstyle my boyfriend made me that morning.
Indeed he really did a great job!